When the Detroit Lions drafted D’Andre Swift at the top of the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Kerryon Johnson was chilling. At home on a Friday night, he fired up the Harry Potter film series for the first time. So that when the Lions drafted a running back—perhaps one that could eventually take over his job as the team’s starter, Johnson wasn’t fretting.
“I was actually watching Harry Potter, so that was my initial reaction,” Johnson said.
But when he eventually found out about the news, he wasn’t that surprised and was actually quite delighted.
“Look, I knew we were going to draft a running back eventually,” Johnson said. “I think we got, in my opinion, definitely one of the top two [in the draft]. I love having a running mate. I love winning games and I think he can help us do that. So I wasn’t tripping at all.”
On draft night, Lions general manager Bob Quinn explained that Swift was just going to be a part of Detroit’s stable of backs and expressed the importance of having multiple options in the backfield.
“I think we always want a stable of backs,” Quinn said. “I think I’ve said that for a long time. You can count on one hand how many backs kind of carry the load. There’s not a lot of those guys walking around. I think we always need multiple backs. It’s a position where guys get hit. They take a pounding. So, we’ve just got to make sure we have good depth and guys that can go out there and make plays for us.”
Johnson has a unique outlook on Swift, too. Seeing as they both played in the SEC in college—Johnson at Auburn, Swift at Georgia—Johnson had an up-close look at his talents, and he came away extremely impressed.
“He’s a phenomenal player,” Johnson said. “I remember playing against him in college. I hated seeing him every time. We played against Nick Chubb, and Sony (Michel), and I’m telling you, when that kid stepped on the field, he’s lightning in a bottle. He’s threatening to go 80 yards, 70, 60, every time he touches it.”
And while they play the same position, Johnson believes they are different players and could work well together in the same backfield.
“He’s a lot more elusive than I am, I would say so. I think everyone would agree with that,” Johnson said. “But just having multiple running backs that are capable of running the ball at an efficient level—whether the style is different, the style is the same—it’s just taking stress off of one another.”
Johnson is coming off yet another year marred by injury. After missing six games his rookie season, he missed another eight last year, raising more questions about his durability in the NFL. But despite having to work out at a private gym rented by his dad due to the coronavirus, Johnson feels he’ll be ready to go whenever practices start up again.
“I’ve been getting after it, because going into fall camp unprepared, that’s a death sentence,” Johnson said. “So I’ve been doing pretty well, and I think I’ll be ready when the time comes.”